Rep. Loretta Sanchez at  Democratic Convention in Anaheim. Image via California Democratic Party
Rep. Loretta Sanchez at Democratic Convention in Anaheim. Image via California Democratic Party

State Attorney General Gen. Kamala Harris is holding her lead in the race to succeed Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate, but strong support among Latinos has enabled Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Orange County to establish herself as a serious rival, according to a poll released Monday.

The new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll found Harris leading Sanchez, a fellow Democrat, 26 percent to 17 percent among registered voters, followed by former state Republican chairman Tom Del Beccaro, with 10 percent and Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside, with 9 percent, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The primary election is in June, and it is far from settled: More than a third of voters were undecided, and more candidates could still emerge. Regardless of party, the contestants who finish first and second will advance to a November 2016 runoff.

Latino voters are a crucial foundation for Sanchez, the survey found. They favor her over Harris 34 percent to 18 percent. People who took the survey in Spanish are her strongest constituency; more than half of them support Sanchez, a daughter of Mexican immigrants.

Sanchez, a one-time Republican, first won national attention in 1996, when she ousted Republican firebrand Bob Dornan from Congress in what was a major breakthrough for Latinos in California.

—City News Service

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